During this week’s Summit, we were joined by POLITICO reporter (and Idaho native) Ximena Bustillo, who took the opportunity to learn more about the industry’s ongoing challenges with Mexico and broke news about a bipartisan letter being circulated on the Hill.
Bustillo reported that U.S. potato industry advocates and lawmakers are challenging Mexico’s recent announcement that it is imposing new requirements on U.S. fresh and chipping potato imports “that could stall the rollout of the new policy.”
“Now,” she wrote, “the U.S. potato industry is accusing Mexico of changing the plan by requiring Mexican agriculture officials to conduct additional site visits to U.S. potato processing and shipping facilities. Mexico is ‘now requiring additional site visits during the growing season prior to granting access. But they have not stated how many or where,’ [NPC CEO Kam] Quarles said in an email to a group of potato producers and industry members.”
The story continued: “The November work plan does have a provision for ‘auditing’ the process with site visits. But, ‘Mexican negotiators are reinterpreting that provision to be a precursor to shipments rather than an audit to determine compliance with a program in operation,’ Quarles said. There is also concern Mexico is limiting processing registrations to only two companies for the coming year.”
She also revealed that a letter is now being circulated for signatures by Sens. Angus King (I-Maine) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), which will urge USDA Secretary Vilsack to utilize all necessary pressure to ensure Mexico upholds its promise to fully open its market.
The full story can be found here (subscription required).